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neglected this last opportunity, it would certainly be attended with the most fatal consequences.
Our Lord removes the complaint of a woman who had been deformed eighteen years, and confutes the ruler of the synagogue. Goes to Jerusalem, and there gives sight to a man, who had been born blind. The Pharisees endeavor to destroy the force of this miracle, and for that purpose strictly examine the person relieved, who boldly asserting it was Christ that had performed it, they excommunicate him from the synagogue. Our Lord shews the Pharisees to be false guides, and himself the true one; and, upon asserting his divinity, is in danger of being stoned. He leaves Jerusalem, and retires to Bethabara. Explains to the people the great diffieulty of attaining salvation. Is warned to depart the country, in order to escape the resentment of Herod. Predicts the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Cures a man of the dropsy, recommends humility, and represents the different success of the Gospel. Informs the people what qualifications are necessary for them to become Christians, and vindicates his own conduct in conversing sometimes with sinners. Shews the manner in which we are to employ our riches, and the miserable consequence of uncharitableness. Reminds his disciples of several duties, especially of humility, and cautions them against being deluded by false prophets.
IT was the custom of our Blessed Lord to preach to the people on every sabbath, in one of the Jewish synagogues. While he was one day thus employed, he observed a woman, who, for the space of eighteen years, had labored under a great state of infirmity, by which her body was so bent that she was not able to raise herself upright. Here was a proper object for his compassion and power to exert themselves; and therefore calling the woman to him, he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she became strait, and glorified God.
This distinguished display of Divine power and goodness, instead of being considered by the master, or ruler
of the synagogue, in its proper light, so highly offended him, that he openly testified his displeasure, and reproved the people as sabbath-breakers, because they came on that day to be healed. There are six days (said this surly ruler to the people) in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath-day.
But our Lord soon silenced this hypocritical Pharisee, by shewing him that he had not deviated from their own avowed practice. They made no scruple of loosing their cattle and leading them to water on the sabbath-day, because the mercy of the action sufficiently justified them for performing it. And surely this action of loosing a woman, a rational creature, that had been bound by so afflicting a complaint during the tedious interval of eighteen years, was abundantly justified: nor could this bigotted ruler have thought otherwise, had not his reason been blinded by his superstition. Thou hypocrite (said our Lord to him) doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath-day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. Luke xiii. 15, &c.
The Feast of Dedication was now approaching, in consequence of which our Lord, after several removals, repaired again to Jerusalem, where, as he was walking in the streets on the sabbath-day, he saw a poor man who had been blind from his birth. The sight of so affecting an object could not fail of exciting the compassion of the benevolent Saviour of mankind: nor could the affronts and indignities he had received from the Jews hinder him from working the works of him that sent him, and dispensing blessings on that rebellious and ungrateful nation. Accordingly, he beheld this poor blind man, not with a transient view, but fixed on him the eyes of his Divine compassion, and presented him with the riches of his adorable love.
The disciples observing the affectionate regard of their Master, towards this object of compassion, and imagining that he was going to give another instance of his Divine goodness, asked him, whether the man's blindness was occasioned by his own sin, or the sin of his parents? They had often heard their Master say, that afflictions were generally the punishment of particular sins; and had learned, from the law of Moses, that sin was the fruitful source of evil, and that the Lord punished the iniquities of the fathers upon the children. Their Master kindly answered, that neither his own, nor the sins of his parents, were the immediate cause of this peculiar punishment; but that he was born blind, that the works of God should be made manifest in him; particularly his sovereignty in bringing him blind into the world, his power of conferring the faculty of sight upon him, and his goodness in bearing witness to the doctrine by which men were to be saved.-By this pertinent reply of the Saviour of the world, we may learn, that a curious enquiry into the afflictions of other men should be carefully avoided; and that we ought to suppose every calamity inflicted on mankind as directed by Providence for the advancement of his glory: that whatever miseries we behold in others, we must not impute them to their personal sins, lest, like the disciples in the case before us, we assign to sin what owes its origin to the glory of our Maker,
Our Blessed Lord, having assigned the cause of this person's blindness, namely, that the works of God should be made manifest in him, added, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work ; intimating to his disciples, and all that were present, his unwearied labor in the work of his Almighty Father. In this he was employed day and night, during the time of his sojourning in the flesh. To this alone he directed all his thoughts and all his actions. This he esteemed even as his meat and drink; and for this he suffered the neglect of his ordinary food, that he might finish the blessed, the beneficent work of human salvation.
It was now the sabbath-day, and the Blessed Jesus was going to perform a miracle, in which there was to be
a small degree of servile work. He therefore told his disciples that they need not be surprized to see him work miracles of that kind on the sabbath; for though they should imagine that he might defer them till the day of rest was over, his time on earth was so short, that he was obliged to embrace every opportunity that offered of working miracles. He might, perhaps, chuse to perform this work on the sabbath, because he knew the Pharisees would, for that reason, enquire into it with the utmost attention, and, consequently, render it more generally known. But, be this as it may, our Lord took occasion, at this time, to speak of himself as one appointed to give light also to the minds of men involved in darkness. As long as I am in the world (said he) I am the light of the world. From this expression it evidently ap pears that our Saviour's miracles were designed not only as proofs of his mission, but also as specimens of the power he possessed as the Messiah. For example, by feeding the multitude with the meat that perished, he sig nified that he was come to quicken, and nourish mankind, with the bread of life, that sovereign cordial, and salutary nutriment of the soul. His giving sight to the blind was a lively emblem of the efficacy of his doctrine to illuminate the blinded understandings of men. His healing their bodies represented his power to heal their souls, and was a specimen of his authority to forgive sins. His casting out devils was an earnest of his victory over Satan and all his powers. His raising particular persons from the dead was the beginning of his triumph over death, and a demonstration of his ability to accomplish a general resurrection; and, in a word, his curing all promiscuously, who applied to him, shewed, that he was come, not to condemn the world, but to save, even the chief of sinners.
The great Redeemer of mankind, having declared the salutary purposes of coming into the world, proceeded to perform the great miracle he had designed in the presence of the people. He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation sent.) He went his way,
therefore, and washed, and came seeing. John ix. 6, 7. It is evident, from former examples, that our Blessed Lord could very easily have performed this miracle without the assistance of any external application. Indeed, the method made use of by the great Redeemer on this occasion was so far from being likely to effect a cure, that it seemed adapted to produce a quite contrary effect. We must, therefore, conclude that it was intended farther to display his Divine power, and to convince the unbelieving Jews that he was the true and long expected Messiah.
This astonishing miracle produced a general curiosity and surprize among the people, and induced those who had seen this blind man in his dark and deplorable condition, to be very particular in their enquiries into the means of so singular a miracle. It was, in short, the subject of general conversation, and it is natural to think. might, therefore, have proved the means of a general conversion; but, as too frequently happens, a perverse curiosity prevented its salutary effects. Some of the poor man's neighbors readily believed it, while others, though they did not absolutely condemn it, yet could not get over their doubts. The neighbors, therefore, and they which before had seen him, that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him; but he said, I am he.
The poor man (transported with gratitude and joy for the great benefit he had received) finding his neighbors doubtful of the identity of his person, proclaimed himself to be the very same whom they had lately seen begging in total darkness. I am he, thus wonderfully blessed with sight, by the peculiar mercy of God! I am he who was blind from my birth, whom ye have all seen, and many relieved, in my miserable distress! I am he who was involved in total darkness, but now enjoy the enlivening light of day!
This ample and frank acknowledgment of the fact excited the curiosity of the people to know how the miracle was performed. They therefore asked him, How were thine eyes opened? To which he replied, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes,